If You aren’t using Twitter Tools – Time is Running Out

If you know me at all you have probably read one of my rants against the evils of Facebook. Yes, I have three accounts (for all the goodit has done me) but I am a full-on-100%-die-hard twitter supporter.

social_media_waste

Facebook is like waking up every morning, turning on your computer and checking into your High School reunion. I think I was drunk for High School Reunion and may have thrown up on our former Prom-Queen’s shoes. I blame Tequila shots with my the former Spanish teacher.

So yeah, I don’t waste a lot of energy marketing to those “Friends” nor do I expect much help there for my campaign. For that I go to Twitter.

I have learned a lot about Twitter over the last 9 months – evidently a lot more than people who had 2 thousand followers when I joined up and who still haven´t broken the 3 thousand mark.

I have blogged numerous times about how to build your twitter following – especially about how to do it RIGHT!

Last night I discovered yet another great tool for working with your twitter account.

https://www.twitteraudit.com

Before getting into the mechanics of this tool, I did discover that you can only do ONE free audit of your account so I suggest you save this tool for after you break a goal. My first goal was 10 thousand users but I passed that milestone months ago so I went ahead and audited my account immediately.

The result? As I expected, my percentage of garbage accounts was only 2%. 16,892 Real Followers vs. 380 Fakes. Garbage accounts.

What is a garbage account? These are fake accounts that exist to falsly inflate a user´s following. They are empty accounts that no one really cares about. There are other accounts out there that follow just about everyone via bots. These too are false and do nothing to help your campaign.

So why do I urge you to use these kinds of Twitter tools to build your following and manage your account? Because despite helping buildthe Twitter universe, Twitter has spent recent years steadily forcing 3rd party solutions out of the market. So we have these tools
at our disposal today … but tomorrow? No one knows.

The other tools that I used to grow my Twitter following from 60 followers to 17,310 in 9 months are:

http://tweepi.com/

https://unfollowers.com/

www.dynamictweets.com/

Tweepi lets you follow your competition´s followers and unfollow accounts that don´t follow back.
Unfollowers is pretty self explanitory. Between Tweepi and Unfollowers you can purge about 300 accounts per day. This opens up room to follow new accounts that WILL follow you back.  Unfollowers is available as an app for android so that´s handy.
Dynamic Tweets allows you to program your tweets in advance.
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A couple of other tips. Users are more likely to follow or follow back if you have:

A photo. And since it is about YOU, a personal photograph please. I don´t even bother to follow NON-HUMAN icons. I want real people for followers.

A bio. Why would I follow you if I know nothing about you? And having someone stop by and read your bio may be the first step towards making a sale.

BTW – You may have noticed that although my blog is all about promotion for my INDIE AUTHOR publications, I haven´t mentioned books or Amazon or Kindle etc. until now in this post. This is because the tools and concepts are universal for any NICHE.

So good luck with that. I am always available for a bit of Twitter tutoring.
davidburke63@gmail.com

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here!

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Stephen King´s ¨On Writing¨ – Read it again

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In case you are wondering whether I am using the past or the imperative of the verb ´Read,´ the answer is BOTH.  I read it again and I highly recommend that you do the same.

I say this with the almost complete confidence that if you are in the Indie writer – Self Publishing game, you have read it already.  I really wish I had read the book when it first came out as it most likely would have motivated me to resurrect my childhood dream of being a writer; something that was beaten out of my by the good old Canadian education system.  Have to thank Mrs. Jarvis especially for scarring me to such a degree as to make me give up at the ripe old age of 8.

But I digress.

Why do I recommend you read Mr. King´s diatribe on the art and methodology of writing fiction?  Well there is a lot of advice in their that has very little to do with the actual writing and a lot to do with keeping up your confidence and shunning the criticism that we run into as Indie writers.

Let´s admit it, if any of us were making big numbers (any of us serious writers that is … all the 50 Shades prediliction fiction xxx writers who are cashing in can and should have to read their works to their mothers in front of their own church congregation) we wouldn´t be blogging and twittering and marketing like a bunch of deranged girl-guides trying to flog that last box of cookies.  We´d just be writing and enjoying the fruit$ of our labour.

So let´s say you are a writer who is sticking to their guns, trying to find an audience for your quirky brand of fiction that doesn´t fit into any of the bestselling money genres.  It is bound to get you down.  It is bound to make you question your talent and just about everything about what you are doing.

A large section of ´On Writing,´ whether directly or indirectly talks about pleasing the people.  And yes, we must keep the reader in mind at all times but just who is your market and how much of your market are you going to please at all times?  Sadly, you cannot please some readers without outright pissing off others.  See, right there somebody got offended by my use of the colloquialsim ´Pissed off.´  As Mr. King might say …. tough titty.

Let´s say you are a writer of Mystery novels.  You might write those tough as nails characters like Spencer or Sam Spade. So in today´s market it would be no big surprise to have the occassional ´EF´ bomb explode from the lips of your protagonist.  However, if the person reading your novel more commonly reads mysteries of the ´cozy´ variety in the style of Agatha Christie, those fucking nasty bits are going to be a turn off.

My novels and books to date have dealt with dogs – in a large part about abuse of domestic animals.  So I had one reader write me to complain that he couldn´t continue to read my short story collection Mexican Mutts, Tequila Pups + Chili Dogs because the main character leaves his dog on the side of the highway and drives off.  He said, and I quote – ´That´s just cruel.´ WELL DUH!

I have read a ton of those how to book about the art of writing and while some of them have been more informative and helpful in the area of actual writing – sentence structure and grammar issues etc. that may have plagued some of my work, ´On Writing´ is a great book in that it puts a lot of the issues we deal with into layman´s terms and also gives us an insight into what King went through before he got published, what his initial inspiration was and how he wrote some of his best know works and gives a ton of info about his process.  We each have to develop our own process.

To be truthful, while I have read many of King´s novels, I don´t count myself as a huge fan.  I like his work and occassionally his prose can border on graceful but it never sings to me.  Of course I only hear that melody when I read the classics or my extreme favorite writers such as Larry McMurtry, James Carlos Blake, Cormac McCarthy etc.  But I wasn´t born with their genius nor do I figure I have enough years of life left to me to develope it.  But maybe one day I´ll write something as layered and well constructed as ´IT´ or ¨The Stand.´ Maybe.

Read it again.  It will be well worth your time.

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.  

The State of INDIE

Like any other endeavor, the world of the Independant, Self published author is governed in a large part by people. Humans. Homo Sapien.  Therein lay its flaw. Just as the philosophy of Carl Marx may sound great on paper, in the hands of man it didn´t turn out to be exactly the utopia one might imagine upon reading “The Communist Manifesto.”

If you were lucky enough to get in on the ground floor and have a large back-catalogue of titles, there is a chance that you are getting a steady paycheck from Amazon. This is not to say that it´s a big paycheck. I try to find a bit of reality in the world of INDIE. If someone claims they are selling 30 books a day you can be sure that I am going to track their progress.

Now why would I want to write about this topic you ask? I must be bitter as hell or have some bone to pick with INDIE writers or something.  My main motivation here is to entertain (largely myself) and to put things into some perspective (again, for myself and anyone else who is in the same boat.)

Take a look at your Amazon ranking. I am sure that most of us Indies are getting familiar with the way our rankings fluctuate depending on our sales. What happens when you sell a book? Well, the very first time you sell a book it gets ranked. Before that you are in no-man´s-land. Your book doesn´t even exist. Then you get some kind of overall ranking and more specific ranking based on the book´s genre.
Something like this:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #632,207 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#1132 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Classics
#2033 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime
#3053 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime

This happens to be the current ranking for my novel ´LOBO´ – As you can see, not doing too good.
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When I jump into my Kindle Dashboard and look at sales for the last month I see that someone is presently reading LOBO via the KU/KOLL system. Anyone unfamiliar with this just needs to know that the reader didn´t buy a copy but is part of a plan where Amazon pays me for ´Pages Read´ by any other their elite customers.

So from a subterranean ranking of somewhere around 1.5 million, one reader put me in the 632 thousand range. How many more real sales  would I need to make to be in the 300 thousand range? How many more to be in the 100 thousand range. Not many. About a sale per week. Real sales are coming in regularly in the under 100 thousand range. Of course, we are talking about maintaining a book in that range. Sell five in a few days and you are likely to be in the 100 thousand range BUT … (and this is a HUGE BUT) how long will the book remain in that range. Not too long. Not even one day.

So don´t lose heart. I realize that comparing ourselves to other writers and their sales is a nasty bit of business. But occassionally it´s to your benefit to see how you are doing in the real world and that means how you stack up against the competition.  Take my word for it … the majority of the INDIE authors out there aren´t doing much.  I open almost every link of every Indie author that follows me on twitter.  It´s rare that their books are sitting higher in the Amazon ranking than 500 thousand.  So we´re all struggling.

On a personal note, I realize that my books are in a ´death battle´ competition. I don´t write in one of the big five or six money genres. Romance, Paranormal, Mystery, Thriller, Vampires, Zombies or Erotica / Porn. These are genres that sell. And sell big. I write in a genre that isn´t even a genre. I sell a few books a month. I sell a dozen books on a really good month.

Am I happy with my sales? No. But now we are back to people again. I have yet to come to grips with a world in which a book like ´50 Shades of Grey´ is a bestseller. Never will. As a matter of fact, people who buy that kind of suppossed literature are not my friends. So get lost. (With the exception of those folks who read it just to see how damn bad it really was … you guys can stick around.) The rest of you, I´m about to get to the point.

At the end of the day, we had better be our own best friends. I am lucky. I get along great with myself. And I look into the mirror every  day and don´t have to lie or exagerate (ok, we all do a little but … ) to live with myself.

So what the hell is up with the so many Indie authors that aside from selling really crappy books, make outlandish claims about themselves?
I don´t get it.

I am just the opposite. I AM DAVID GORDON BURKE – WORLD WORSTSELLING AUTHOR. WINNER OF ZERO AWARDS. So be it.

Lies INDIES tell.

Best Selling Author (various possiblities here)
All my family has bought copies
I bribed all my co-workers to buy a copy.
One of my books was number 2 in the Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Religion & Spirituality >
New Age > Meditation > Navel Gazing category for about five minutes when I ran a ´Kindle Freebee´ day

Award Winning Author
I won a Yo-Yo contest back in third grade

Published Author
I have published my own work since no one in their right mind would do it for me

Published by Instarama Press
I spent a fortune getting these losers to print my books

Million seller
I have a million copies in my cellar

Writer – Look for my first book to be released in March
Or April, or May, or June, or next year, or the year after that.

I write Erotica
Since Penthouse forum no longer takes submissions, I publish my Porn musings on Amazon. Also, I haven´t gotten laid since
there was a Bush in the White house.

I write Young Adult Paranormal Romance
How many ways can I copy Twilight?

I could go on and on and on but you get the gist.

Leaving you with these thoughts.

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”

“Perhaps the less we have, the more we are required to brag.”

“All books are divisible into two classes: the books of the hours, and the books of all Time.”

“I think of myself as a bad writer with big ideas, but I’d rather be that than a big writer with bad ideas.”

“To win the people, always cook them some savoury that pleases them.”

And my personal favorite

¨When you conform you please everyone, except yourself.¨

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here

Am I Doing this Right? Musings on Writing and Marketing for Indie Writers

The two great challenges for an Indie Writer are writing a great novel and getting it into people’s hands.
There is really little I can say about the former – writing is a tough gig and in many cases mediocre works are getting a lot of play in the INDIE world.  Maybe the writer has done a lot of really great marketing, has a wide net of friends and family that will buy up anything he or she writes, who knows?
One thing that is a sure fire winner is writing within a top selling genre.
Just take a look at this graphic.
genres

Take the first three top genres – Romance, Paranormal or Thriller.  Assuming that this graphic is accurate (I do not … I believe the top three sell much more) then it is safe to say that people writing within those genres are making sales purely by default.  If I sold 11 books last month within a genre which doesn’t even register, how much more would I be selling if I wrote Romance or another top selling genre?

But that is neither here nor there.  I write what I write with the hope of writing the best possible story.  So how does one guage their effectiveness and success on a purley artistic or literary critera, leaving monetary reward out of the equation?
The answer is that one cannot.  This is not science.  What will touch one person may not affect another.  I remember editing my first novel LOBO and my short story collection Mexican Mutts, Tequila Pups & Chili Dogs.  When I returned to some scenes or stories that I hadn’t read worked on in a while, there were times when I got caught up in the stories and the action or the emotion took ahold of me.  A few scenes brought a tear to my eye.  To me that is success.  There is nothing better. But a pure objective and scientific measurement of the quality of the writing doesn’t exist.  We all hope to write a better story next time.

So then there is the marketing.  This we can measure and qualify with some degree of scientific, black and white factors.  There is still a lot of guesswork but if we have a strong objective in mind, we can tell how we are doing on our quest to build an audience and writer’s platform.

First, the platform.  There are a ton of web pages that go into what and how to build a platform.  Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, Amazon Author page etc.  It’s a ton of work to get all these pages set up, get them linking together so that your blog posts feed directly to your twitter, your facebook etc.  I’m not going to go into that today.

What I’m mostly interested in is your twitter following.
I cruise a lot of different writer’s twitter accounts.  Mostly, I am using Tweepi to harvest their followers.  So what is a twitter success story compared to a loser account?  What elements decide whether a person has a vibrant twitter following compared to just a big number of suppossed followers?

We all know that you can pay $19.99 for 10 thousand followers and this may have some value.  It gives people the appearance that there is a significant number of people following you compared to the number of people you follow, thus creating the illusion that you are an ‘INFLUENCER.’  Not a bad title to have on Social Media.  But in order for that big following to have some effect on your bottom line, you need some real followers too.  So where do you get them?

Again, I harvest followers from Niche specific accounts – followers who are interested in the same things as I am who may one day see an ad for one of my books and decide that this is the kind of thing they might want to read.  Simple as that.
So my books are about dogs.  I follow people who read a lot, who have dogs and read a lot, who review books, have dogs and read a lot, who think Cesar Milan is god, who read, review, have dogs etc.  See where this is going?

But ….. AND HERE IS THE MAIN POINT … I don’t just go into Cesar Milan’s account and randomly follow everyone.  Because we all know that there are a ton of people (let’s call them leaches for lack of a better word) that follow Cesar Milan not because they are interested in him or dogs, but because they have land for sale in the Florida Everglades, or Cheap Ray Bans or Twitter followers or whatever else they are flogging.  So I am selective.

Then there are the millions of accounts that are inactive.  If a person hasn’t tweeted since a Bush was in the White House, then they are unlikely to be checking their twitter feed too often.  They are not going to see one of my cool and comic book ads, they are not going to read one of these OH SO HELPFUL blog posts nor are they going to see the team of retweeters I have nurtured.  They aren’t using Twitter because they thought it was going to be …… wait for it ….. FACEBOOK.

Twitter isn’t Facebook.  I don’t even think it is fair to call Twitter ‘Social Media.’  It is a business networking platform.  Of course there are some cool pics of Lindsay Lohan in rehab thrown in there too but hey, to each his own.
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So how do you know if you are getting it right?  Again, we can see all we need to see about our Twitter account while using Tweepi.
http://tweepi.com/

For the sake of arguement, I will assume you have discovered the wonders of tweepi before reading this post.  If not, learn it.  It is great for carving out a following in your niche.

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This is the view of the interface.  There is the ‘People not following back’ tab and the ‘People I am following tab.’  Take a look at your own following.  Assuming that your followers are niche specific (that’s a big assumption but we’ll go with it for now) the next thing that will determine how effective your twitter following is falls under the ‘Last Time Tweeted’  tab (or something like that …. you get the idea)  This tells us when was the last time your follower sent a tweet.

I recently purged my complete following – 745 pages of followers.  I got rid of all the UNKOWN/HAS NEVER TWEETED followers.  There were only about 20 of them out of my 16,000 followers.  I call that a good sign.  Also, the vast majority has tweeted within the last day, usually within hours.  Another good sign.

If I find a writer who specializes in book about dogs and who has a twitter following, I am on them like white on rice.  What I often find is a half-baked following of people who haven’t tweeted in months, sometimes years.  What would be the point of trying to get those people following me?  They are inactives.  They aren’t about to see one of book ad tweets.  The life span of a tweet is about 15 minutes.
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So while you cannot objectively know how well you wrote that last scene, you can, with the help of the tools that are available to you (tweepi, twitter analytics  … see previous post etc) get an idea of how your platform is growing, how effective your tweets have been, how your users are responding to your tweets and most importantly, how active your followers are.  My advice in closing is to be selective with who you follow.  Follow active people.  Find active accounts and follow their followers regularly.

Good luck with that and keep on writing and tweeting.
David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.
PS.  There is a Kindle Countdown Deal running for a week on my novel LOBO.

Countdown Deal & Member of the Week at Rave Review Book Club

I have been granted the honor of being the Rave Review Book Club’s ‘Member of the Week’ so I have decided to take advantage of the spotlight by offering one of my books at a discounted rate via an Amazon Kindle Countdown deal.
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The special prices start Monday.
Nov 9, 2015 $0.99
Nov 12 $1.99
Nov 16 regular price $2.99
Find the book here.

You might be asking what is this Rave Review Book Club.  It is a group of like minded Indie Writers who have come together to tweet and support and review each other.  I highly recommend this club and with a fee of just $25 per year how can you go wrong?

If you are interested, you can find information about the Club and how it works HERE!

I hope you take advantage of the countdown deals.  Oh, and by the way, be a peach and write a review if you like the book.

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.  

What’s Going on in my World

Last post I hinted that I was busy with a bunch of personal stuff that was keeping me away from blogging and writing and all other creative endeavours.  I have been tied up lately with a ton of problems but out of the chaos I have managed to get a lot of work done.  Oh, and Hurricane Patricia turned out to be not much of a storm.

The main issue that has been making life crazy for the last few weeks is that the health issues that I battled with in 2014 have returned.  Anyone who follows my blog or has read Mexican Mutts, Tequila Pups and Chili Dogs might remember that I suffered from Bladder Cancer and had two operations and underwent 4 rounds of chemotherapy.

Three weeks ago I went from a routine check-up … well, It’s routine for me.  Medieval torture for the rest of the world.  It involves entering the bladder via fiber-optic camera and taking a look around.  Well they discovered a ‘suspicious’ area which could be anything.  Could be another tumour, could be nothing.  But I have to get it taken care of.

Regardless, it has been discovered very, very early.  The previous growth that they hacked out of my bladder with a laser, much in the style of a miniature Luke Skywalker doing battle with Darth Cancer, was about 5 centimeters.  This is barely a zit at under 1 centimeter.  So no major worries.  As far as the other worries related to cancer, it is almost unthinkable that something so small could be more than Level 1 Cancer so if the pathology report stays true to the prediction (or even better, if it turns out to be nothing) then no chemotherapy.

My big problem was I no longer had health insurance so I had to run around getting coverage.  This due to the fact that the SOB’s that I used to work for fired me without justification and aside from not paying me the severance due me, also left me with no coverage.  Nice.  That’s now taken care of and I have an appointment tomorrow to get the process underway.  I hope they operate within the next few weeks.

Nuff said about that nasty business.  Meanwhile I have been struggling with both a writer’s and reader’s block.  Couldn’t get started on my next novel (or novella … we’ll see how big the story becomes) and I couldn’t find a damn thing to read.

I finally got my hands on ‘100 Years of Solitude’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and not only is it just a wonderfull book, but it inspired a whole new direction with the project I am trying to write.  I now know EXACTLY where my story is going, what will happen, who the characters are, what the motivation is and where the conflict is.  I also know that I need just a few small details to tie it all together.
Eureka

That said, my new challenge is to get the first draft written.  I expect to take a week or so off work to recover from the procedure (I’m not calling it an operation since it’s not much more than getting a pimple lanced) so I intend to write the entire first draft within that time.  My word count per day has to fall into the 6000 word range in order to achieve my goal.

In the end, I still believe in my process.  I am not a great believer in the ‘write everyday’ mentality.  I believe in writing when inspired and when the story is ready to be told.  Think of it like biology.  If either one of my parents had combined their dna with any other person, I wouldn’t be here now.  And it had to be that egg and that sperm at that very moment.  Life is a delicate thing.  Same for my story.  I want to tell it at the precise moment it is ready to be born, not before and not after.

Well, the idea has gelled 95% … of course that last 5 percent is BIG.  A lot can happen there.  I feel confident that this time I will tell the story exactly how I envision it and get the elements together in the best possible combination.  My previous books had a few aread that could have been handled better.  Maybe it’s just that I’m over critical of my own work but this time I expect to NAIL IT!

Just as a teaser, the story first came to me after watching that old kid’s movie ‘Benji’ on Youtube.  The story will incorporate a bit of my version of Magical Realism as is common to a lot of Latin American writers.  Not as freaky and artsy as they tend to get but it will entertain the idea that there is Magic around us and that Dogs are a part of that Magic.

The story revolves around the daily migration of a stray dog in the city and his interactions with the people that he comes in contact with.  Each character has his own story and his own relationship with the dog.  I call him Sammi.

I’m still working on a title.  For the moment I am calling it
The Story of Sammi’s Secret Scheme
A Week in a Stray Dog’s LIfe

I need to work on that but that more or less gives you an idea.

So I’ll report when I know more.
For those of you who hear the word ‘Cancer’ and automatically go into panic mode, I can tell you that I will be fine.  There is an old Mexican expression that goes ‘Mala Hierba nunca muere.’  I’m sure that applies to me.

Cheers,
David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.